This week marks the 53rd year of National Small Business Week (NSBW), which runs April 30th – May 6th. Originally introduced by President Kennedy in 1963, National Small Business Week emerged in a tough time for this sector, as corporations were adding to their growth through mergers and acquisitions – and shopping malls, chain stores and fast-food restaurants rose to challenge “main street” businesses.
But small businesses have persevered, and National Small Business Week recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.
More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year. As part of National Small Business Week, the U.S. Small Business Administration takes the opportunity to highlight the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from all 50 states and U.S. territories. Every day, they’re working to grow small businesses, create 21st century jobs, drive innovation, and increase America’s global competitiveness.
NSBW celebrates entrepreneurship, and kicked off Monday in Washington D.C. where SBA administrator Linda McMahon spoke live, recognizing outstanding small business owners from around the country, including National Small Business Person of the Year. The entire week focuses on best practices for small businesses, with SBA hosting free training webinars that provide tips and tools on how to help fuel the small business economy.
Other organizations, like the non-profit group SCORE, will team up with the U.S. Small Business Administration to honor the “estimated 27.9 million small businesses in America that create 64 percent of new jobs in the country, drive innovation, and increase U.S. competitiveness.” SCORE chapters nationwide will celebrate NSBW with small business fairs, seminars, networking events and award ceremonies. The 53-year-old non-profit group helps 389,000 business people nationally with workshops, seminars and training.
How “Big” is Small Business?
Much bigger than you might think. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2012:
- There were 73 million employer firms in the U.S.
- Firms with fewer than 500 workers accounted for 99.7% of those businesses
- Businesses with less than 20 workers made up 89.6%
- There were also 23 million non-employer businesses in the U.S. in 2013, increasing the share of U.S. businesses with less than 20 workers to 97.9%.
According to the SBA’s Office of Advocacy:
“Small firms accounted for 63 percent of the net new jobs created between 1993 and mid-2013 (or 14.3 million of the 22.9 million net new jobs). Since the end of the recession (from mid-2009 to mid-2013), small firms accounted for 60 percent of the net new jobs. Small firms in the 20-499 employee category led job creation.”
Top Concerns for Small Businesses
Starting a business, which would seem daunting to many, is often an easier task compared to managing the business to achieve long-term success. Although small and medium sized-businesses control over 95% of the business market, 50% of small businesses cannot make it past the first four years.
With a shift to online purchasing for both consumers and businesses, challenges in today’s small businesses include lack of ample funding, proper marketing to compete within the digital era, targeting and retaining tech-savvy customers, strategic leadership, and finding the right employees for the job.
These are all valid concerns for any business to consider, but as small businesses focus on how to survive in today’s digital world, the conversation continues to go back to what businesses need to keep their networks, and their customers’ payments, secure.
In 2016, there were 1,093 recorded data breaches involving more than 35 million consumer records. Large and small corporations fell victim to fraudsters who infiltrated point of sale (POS) systems and stole clear-text cardholder data. We often hear of the large retailer data breaches – think Target, Yahoo, Home Depot – but breaches within the small business sector don’t make the headlines.
Yet the reality is that 55% of small to medium-sized businesses have experienced a data breach and 53% have admitted to more than one. All too often SMBs think they are not a target for thieves because of their transaction volume and size.
Small business owners can have everything in place to run a successful business – from proper in-store marketing to a strategic ecommerce strategy – but if a breach occurs, all of these efforts are quickly sidelined. Unlike large organizations, where resources are ample, the cost of a breach can quickly close the doors of a small business.
P2PE: Protecting Small Business Payment Data
Investing in a security plan is a critical step small businesses must take to keep their brand and their customers safe from fraud. The PCI Security Standards Council, the gold standard for payment security requirements, blogged about how SMB’s can protect their data:
As a small business, you are a target for cybercriminals. Using the Internet, these hackers steal your customers’ payment (debit and credit) card data to commit fraud. This data is especially at risk when it travels to your merchant bank, and when it’s kept or stored on your computers and devices.
The best way to protect this data is to devalue it. ”Encryption” and “tokenization” technologies do this by replacing it with data that is useless to hackers. While this can be more complex to put in place, it can make security much easier to manage in the long-run, and it is the best way to reduce your risk. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Use encrypting devices: Check with your payment system vendor to make sure that the device you use to take customer card payments via swipe, dip, insert, tap or manual entry of the card number encrypts card data. Use the “List of PCI Approved PTS Devices” to identify devices that encrypt card data (hint: look for “SRED” on that list and ask your vendor if SRED is enabled and active).
Upgrade your solution: Talk with your payment system vendor or service provider to make sure you have a payment terminal that uses both encryption and tokenization technology to remove the value of card data for hackers. Discuss your options for adoption of PCI Point-to-Point Encryption solutions. Refer to the PCI Council’s “List of PCI P2PE Solutions”.
Ask the right questions: Refer to “Questions to Ask Your Vendors” for tips on how to get the information you need to make the best decision for your business.
Bluefin Payment Systems provides businesses of every size a suite of PCI-validated P2PE solutions that encrypt payment data, making it useless in the event of a data breach. Bluefin’s PayConex payment gateway, stand-alone Decryptx product or QuickSwipe mobile solution encrypt all card data within a PCI-approved P2PE device so it is never present in the merchant system in clear-text. Learn more about what Bluefin can do for your business, and have a happy NSB Week!